Disc Players

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Ed Selley  |  Nov 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Flexible friend Audiolab’s superb 8200CD gets new filter options and internal upgrades: Richard Black reckons its value remains unbeaten It’s just a year since we first encountered the Audiolab 8200CD (HFC 340), which we quickly came to consider one of the finest sensibly priced CD players we’ve had the pleasure of testing. Although there’s no hint in the nomenclature that anything has changed, Audiolab has, in fact, recently put a few tweaks and upgrades into the design, so a re-test seemed in order. As the main photograph shows, this is basically a CD player like any other. Take a squint at the back, though, and you’ll see that it’s not quite so normal: it has digital inputs (electrical, optical and USB), as well as the more common outputs.
Ed Selley  |  Nov 09, 2011  |  0 comments
Far from creeky Simplicity is an admirable virtue, opines Richard Black, as he considers the performance level of Creek’s new Evolution 2 CD player For less than the price of the Evo 2 CD, you can buy a universal disc player that handles all the various flavours of digital discs, reproduces moving and still pictures as well as audio and generally makes this machine look a bit lacklustre. So what’s the point? If you didn’t already know the answer, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this magazine, but there’s more to it than simply knowing that the player has been optimised for one task alone. Just before reviewing this, we had some time with a Blu-ray (etc. ) player and there were times when we could cheerfully have heaved it out of the window.
Ed Selley  |  Oct 08, 2011  |  0 comments
Pushing the limit Jason Kennedy looks at Meridian’s £10,000 top-of-the range CD player and asks if we are approaching the performance limits of Red Book CD Meridian has been at the forefront of CD player technology since 1984 and the 808. 3 is its flagship disc spinner, so no digital stone has been left unturned in the quest to make its third incarnation the ultimate. As early pioneers in technology to reduce the ‘ringing effect’ of conventional digital filters, the 808. 3 makes use of the latest apodising filters and resolution enhancement DSP technology.
Ed Selley  |  Sep 06, 2011  |  0 comments
Masterful multitasker The new UD7006 universal from Marantz plays just about every digital disc you could name. Richard Black asks if more means merrier The term ‘universal’, as applied to pretty much anything in home electronics, is generally only valid for a few minutes these days. No sooner is a ‘universal’ player on the market than some new format, specification or system is launched which is beyond its ken. That said, we can’t actually think of anything this player won’t do.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Primare CD32 Sublime Sweede is understated to behold, but engaging, muscular and tactile with recorded music We looked at Primare’s latest CD player and its partnering amplifier the i32 in HFC 344, so it makes sense to see how it compares with the competition. On paper and in the flesh it’s very strong indeed, thanks to a superb OLED display with a crisp Sans Serif style and a stainless front panel with the bare minimum of buttons. The CD32’s natural tendency is to upsample its output to 96kHz via both analogue and digital sockets, but this can be reined in to 48 or 44. 1kHz with the remote handset.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Stello CDT100/DA100 Well priced two-box solution does things differently, with superb build and a multitude of inputs and outputs Stello is part of Korean company April Music’s roster and we’ve seen a variant of the DA100 DAC before when Russ Andrews modified it and sold it as the DA-1 alongside a matching pre/headphone amp and power amp. The solid, half-size brick construction remains with this pairing, which by virtue of its two-box nature has the most varied array of socketry in this group. The CDT100 must be the most affordable top-loading transport in the game; it’s well built with a shiny magnetic clamp and acrylic cover that doesn’t need to be in place in use. What differentiates it is the provision of an I 2S digital output on a mini DIN socket.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Unison Research Unico CDE Twin This Venetian charmer isn’t cheap, but it’s superbly built and delivers on romance, atmosphere and musicality Italians seem to love valve equipment. As a nation they produce a broad array of stylish glass- powered electronics; it must be something to do with the romance that valves bring out in music! Unison Research makes a number of amplifiers and three CD players of which this is the top dog. In fact, it’s slightly higher than that because it’s the upgraded DAC-OP2 version of the Unico CDE. This is an optional upgrade to the standard CDE which costs £150 if you fit it yourself, but adds £175 to the price of the normal player.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Audio Analogue Maestro Elegant Italian has the technical ability and the sonic skills to charm our blind-listening panel Audio Analogue’s Maestro range represents the pinnacle of its achievements: the Special Edition power amplifiers that carry the same badge cost in the region of £20,000. The Maestro CD player is the penultimate Audio Analogue disc-spinner, second only to the SE version which comes in at twice the price. Our test model is the second revision of the design, or CD192/24 REV2. 0 as they call it in the technical dept.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Densen B-420XS Naim-esque Dane with a sublime design and stunning remote is high on pace and energy In many respects Densen is Denmark’s answer to Naim; it eschews feature counting, but provides upgradeable power supplies on its amplifiers and emphasises that audio components should be all about enjoying the music. We couldn’t agree more with that sentiment, so the question is; does this latest version of the company’s midrange player provide enough entertainment to warrant its asking price? One factor that you have to consider when it comes to price is he remote handset. The Gizmo, as its dubbed, adds £150 to the cost of the player so is not a minor consideration. It is beautiful, but a plastic ‘freebie’ could be just as practical in this day and age.
Ed Selley  |  Aug 27, 2011  |  0 comments
Hanss Acoustics CD-20 Digital player from the analogue expert is well priced and impressive for its upsampling capacity Hanss Acoustics made its debut in these pages with the T-30 turntable (HFC 331), one of three high-mass, multi-motor designs that it produces. Despite the presence of phono stages and even a record-cleaner in the range, it’s not just an analogue company, as the CD player proves. Like the turntables, the CD-20 is a substantial beast with high build and finish quality for the asking price. In fact, the all-metal remote, which is styled to match the player, is the most attractive in the test.
Ed Selley  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  0 comments
Universally yours Oppo’s new universal supports CD/SACD, DVD-A, networked AV and 3D Blu-ray. But it’s the sound quality that makes it so special, says Martin Pipe Universal disc players have always been a distraction from CD-only machines. They offer incredible value and with CD now in decline, the case for buying is growing. Relative newcomer Oppo has launched a rather special unit with audiophiles firmly in mind.
Ed Selley  |  Jun 16, 2011  |  0 comments
Split the difference DACs are all the rage (again), so we ask if two boxes can be better than one? Ed Selley seeks answers from Musical Fidelity’s two-box M1 Musical Fidelity has returned from its latest period of reinvention on something of a roll and the rapid release of new products shows no signs of abating. Following on from the headphone and integrated amps, this is our first experience of the new range of digital products from the company. The M1 DAC has been on sale for a few months now, but has recently been joined by the partnering M1 CDT. This is a brand new product and is, perhaps, the more unusual one of the two.
Ed Selley  |  Mar 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Emotional rescue Italian stalwart Monrio has a refreshingly honest design philosophy when it comes to hi-fi. Jason Kennedy gets passionate about the stylish TL 2 Monrio is an Italian company with a refreshingly honest aim, “Our pretension is neither to bring a real listening experience to your house – it is not possible to do it – nor to imitate the reality but to represent it in the best possible way. ” Few companies have the strength of character to be this open about their approach. It does, of course, grant Monrio founder Giovanni Gadzola licence to make highly personal products, but the fact that he has been selling them for over three decades suggests that his tastes are not unique.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Arcam CD37 - £1,300 SACD playback has a low profile in the case of the CD37, but the presence of a Wolfson DAC is definitely a bonus As SACD players go, this one is remarkably low key. There is an SACD logo on the front, but it’s not immediately obvious and the legend at top right clearly says ‘Compact Disc Player’. But it does handle the hi-res discs, thanks to a DAC which handles DSD (the SACD ‘bitstream’ format) in native mode. That’s an interesting detail, as most DACs these days convert both high-bit PCM (CD, DVD-A etc.
Ed Selley  |  Dec 12, 2010  |  0 comments
Cambridge Audio Azur 650BD - £400 The budget-priced player of the bunch, the 650BD is remarkably good value and holds its own admirably Is it hi-fi, is it home cinema, or is it a bit of home computer equipment? In the days of Blu-ray, USB and internet with everything, the Azur 650BD is all three – with bells on. The 10 front-panel logos denoting specific technologies suggest at once that this is a pretty well-featured unit, while closer investigation doesn’t disappoint. It handles almost every variation of silver disc – CD, SACD, DVD and Blu-ray. Despite that, the insides are not really any busier than most CD- only players.

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